For the first 10 months of the Trump presidency, steel imports have shot up nearly 20% compared to the same period of 2016. So much for wanting to keep Pennsylvania steelworkers in the coalition.
As with widening trade deficits, expanding military missions and footprints, and an immigration plan to amnesty the DACA people in exchange for "border security" instead of a solid wall and mass deportations, the clobbering of the steel industry shows that we should start using quote marks when describing the "Trump" presidency.
It is exactly what you'd expect from any other generic Republican administration that had control of Congress to boot. Trump is only one man with almost no supporters in the government or in the elite sectors of the economy. We sent him as our negotiator, but they refuse to compromise with our demands.
Without any leverage in DC itself, we his supporters are his only leverage. But he has decided not to whip us up into a collective action as he did when he held rallies to get out the vote and defeat the crooks and traitors at the ballot box.
And in the over six months since I first made that observation, his popularity and support has continued to fall among independents and other non-traditional Republicans. By now, there are a handful of Trump die-hards who would still show up and wage battle if he were to lead them, but it's mostly the same ol' Republican base who are most enthusiastic at this Ted Cruz type presidency.
He could get some help from across the aisle, but he does not call the shots like an emperor, and does not control the overall agenda or who will be part of the deal. That is decided by the elite factions that control the GOP.
“I think the White House is immobilized, because they have such a cacophony of voices,” said Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio who describes himself as an ally of the president on trade. “This administration doesn’t seem to know what it thinks about trade.”
The uphill battle within "their own" party that Trump and Commerce Secretary Ross are fighting against steel imports will be taken up in another post, as that gets into the more general discussion of which economic sectors control the Dems vs. the GOP, and what their motives are when in control of the government.
For now, just consider how ridiculous it is for the "populist re-alignment" theory that it's a Democrat Senator sticking his neck out for Trump on steel imports, when his party is possessed by such a hysterical witch hunt against the President. Let's list all those Republican Senators who have altered their policies to match the Trump movement and called for stiff tariffs on foreign steel...
And even if we had a few, that would not be different from the George W. Bush administration, who did manage to implement a tariff on steel for a brief moment in 2002-'03 before it bent the knee to the World Trade Organization and called it off.
If this administration does no better than the George W. Bush presidency on steel tariffs, that will be the end of re-alignment discussion for this term at least.